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A Participant Portal for Distanced WIC Support

A Participant Portal for Distanced WIC Support


WIC programs across the country aim to reduce the risk of poor pregnancy outcomes and to improve the nutrition and health for low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, children, and infants.

CMA’s involvement with the WIC COVID-19 Response Workgroups exposed the struggles that states were having executing basic intake services for new participants. As workers were sent home and clinics closed, there was no technology in place to manage new client intake. WIC Clinics were taking information over the phone during regular business hours.

New Jersey took early steps to ensure accessible WIC support.

Business Case

COVID-19 placed tremendous pressure on the economy, particularly on the customers WIC serves. Recognizing that this pressure would likely continue for some time, the state wanted to ensure food assistance support accessibility. But there was no system in place that allowed for direct participant engagement without the support of Department of Health staff.

Keeping things status quo was unsustainable. WIC clinics were closed with workers working from home and collecting data over the phone. Systems were overwhelmed with initial applications. Much was paper-based with mailed benefits.

A new portal was needed to conduct automated client intake without the presence of a WIC clinic worker. The New Jersey project provided for a two-week timeframe to get the portal up and running, including testing and security certification.

The Solution

CMA staff worked around the clock to ensure delivery within the two-week deadline, creating WIC+, a participant portal that encompasses many aspects of distanced WIC support.

The initial implementation supports the following processes:  

  • Authenticate users, including Federated Identity Management.

  • Capture precertification and demographics information for applicants.

  • Manage limited family information for participants.

  • Acceptance and rejection of online applicants through the WIC MIS for certification processing and reporting to monitor application processing.

  • Documentation upload services for applicants and existing participants to provide supporting information such as proof of identification, residency, income, proof of pregnancy or special formula prescriptions.

CMA also provided additional hardware at no cost to ensure that the portal had adequate scalability for a potential rush of inquiries against the portal.

The Results

With the WIC+ participant portal, New Jersey WIC has automated intake of new participant information. Its services are available to the public 24/7, rather than limited to standard business hours. Services are also device-independent (phones, tablets, laptops, etc), allowing for the broadest public reach. It works through the web and can be attached to any WIC management information system, such as HANDS or WOW.

Commissioner Judy Persichilli said, during Gov. Phil Murphy’s public address on May 8, 2020 address, “The department’s Women, Infant, and Children program (NJ WIC), that serves pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children under the age of five, is still available to our residents. New participants can apply for WIC services remotely by visiting There is no need to be physically present at a WIC agency.”


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